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SF awaits Supreme Court decision on gay marriage

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John Becker, 30, of Silver Spring, Md., waves a rainbow flag in support of gay marriage outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday June 25, 2015. The same-sex marriage ruling is among the remaining to be released before the term ends at the end of June. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP photo)

It’s deja vu for LGBT San Franciscans, and their allies.

Once again, a momentous United States Supreme Court decision is due on gay marriage.

Once again, the decision is slated for the last few days in the Supreme Court’s calendar (and just before the Pride parade).

And once again, the decision could catapult marriage rights forward in the United States, or severely curtail them.

“We’ve been here before,” said Supervisor Scott Wiener, an out politician who represents the Castro district. The tension mirrors the time just before the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn California’s Proposition 8, the same-sex marriage ban.

The feeling, Wiener said, is like “having butterflies in your stomach every morning when you wake up. You look at the clock, it’s 6:30 or 7:15 and just waiting for the court to make an announcement.”

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on Obergefell v. Hodges on Friday, Monday, or perhaps during an extension of the court’s calendar to Tuesday. The case considers if the 14th Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex.

Secondarily, the court will also consider if the 14th Amendment requires a state to recognize a marriage between two same-sex people from another state, where the marriage is legal.

That makes for three possible outcomes, which the LGBT community is largely viewing as the best, middle, and worst, in that order.

One possibility is states will be required to legally license same sex marriages, and recognize out-of-state marriages. If this sweeping ruling is made, “marriage equality will finally become law of the land in all 50 states,” according to advocacy group Human Rights Campaign.

Another possibility is the states may not legally be required to license same sex marriages, but still must recognize such marriages from out of state. This would leave the choice of same-sex marriage up to state-by-state decisions.

Finally, an outcome most advocates consider damaging to the LGBT movement would have states essentially silo themselves off – state same-sex marriage bans would not only be preserved, but states would not be legally required to recognize same-sex marriage licenses from other states.

Local drag performer Juanita MORE! counts herself among those waiting on the edge of her seat, mostly because she’s afraid of how the decision may effect the life of her brother, Frank Capley-Alfano.

“My little brother has been married to his partner for 15 years,” MORE! wrote the San Francisco Examiner. “We have been checking in with each other every morning to see if the decision has been made!”

Former-Mayor Gaving Newsom, who set off the same-sex marriage firestorm by marrying same-sex couples in City Hall, also counts himself among those eagerly awaiting the decision.

“In 2004, the year we started to marry same-sex couples in San Francisco, it was impossible to imagine that this day might come so quickly,” he wrote in a statement.

Many credit Newsom’s act of marrying same-sex couples with sparking a movement that continues on to this day. Right now, 36 states allow same-sex marriage. On Friday, many eyes will be glued to SCOTUSblog.com, which will report live on a possible supreme court decision.

“We expect one or more opinions on Friday at 10:00 a.m. We will begin live-blogging at 9:00 a.m.,” the blog wrote, a sentence putting some San Franciscans on pins and needles.

Supervisor Wiener is optimistic the supreme court will make a ruling that benefits the LGBT community.

“We’ve been fortunate with the Supreme Court in the last 20 years, that every time the issue of LGBT rights has gone to the court we’ve won,” he said. “I’m an optimist, and I think the court set a clear trajectory here. The next logical step is for the court to strike down these anti-marriage laws.

Still, he said, waiting is hard. “It certainly is nerve wracking.”

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